Clay County, Missouri

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Clay County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is the seventh most populous county in Missouri. As of 2000, the population was 184,006. The 2008 estimate is 215,707.[1] Its county seat is Liberty[2]. The county was organized in 1822 and was named in honor of U.S. Representative Henry Clay from Kentucky, later member of the United States Senate and United States Secretary of State.

Clay County is part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area



Clay County was settled primarily from migrants from the Upper South states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. They brought slaves and slaveholding traditions with them, and quickly started cultivating crops similar to those in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky: hemp and tobacco. Clay was one of several counties settled mostly by southerners to the north and south of the Missouri River. Given their culture and traditions, this area became known as Little Dixie. In 1860 slaves made up 25 percent or more of the county's population.[3] Residents generally supported the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Many members of the Latter Day Saint movement found refuge in Clay County in November 1833. In 1836 mobs drove the members of the church from the county.[4] Leaders of this church, most notably church President Joseph Smith, Jr. was imprisoned for some months in Clay county, in the jail at Liberty (see Liberty Jail).

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